|God Bless Texas! Part 1: Intro|
Fort Worth, Granbury, Glen Rose, Meridian, College Station, Texas (Map)
Now in my 3rd year, I was more determined than ever to fight off the Corner Brook winters. Whereas others tell you that you need to embrace the awfulness, I take special joy in exerting every effort to continue with the things I enjoy in life, even through the depths of winter. This year I planned a long vacation at the end of February, in hopes of dividing the winter in half & making it easier to force down through my gullet.
I obviously needed to go somewhere warm. I hadn't been to Alabama before, but even Southern Alabama doesn't get very warm as it averages about 45 degrees in February. I could get another new state with Hawaii, but that didn't excite me like the Lone Star State.
I had been to Texas before, but only through Amarillo via the Panhandle on a very short day.
I longed for a much heavier dose.
Due to the time change, I landed in Dallas-Fort Worth before noon. The rental car bus brought me to my vehicle for the next 11 days - a grey Chevy HHR. You can make fun, but this ogre can lay down & sleep in the back. Loading my bike & my belongings into the car, I punched a random southwestern city into the GPS, as I was far too excited to spend a minute further in this parking garage!
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is truly gigantic. I was driving on the interstate for a good 25 minutes, and only then did I make it to Fort Worth. I didn't have plans to visit Fort Worth, but a detour spit me right into their downtown. From far away, the city looked gritty & intriguing; and now that I was downtown, my curiosity grew even further.
I had never thought about this metropolis as a destination in my life, but the handful of downtown streets I traveled encouraged me to park the car & walk a few blocks of the city's streets.
Although there was a certain amount of modern, crap architectural infill; I remained impressed with the impressive parts of Fort Worth through which I strolled.
I've never been to Europe, but the amount of people outside on decks & patios made Fort Worth feel like what I'd imagine some cities over there are like. Fort Worth had a certain grittiness and ruggedness to it, something like blue collar-midwestern cities; but also something which I'm sure you can find in certain Texan towns (like Fort Worth). The city also had a coolness about it. Not a segway riding, mocha frappuchino, square 'coolness' to it; but like a New Orleans/Minneapolis, where the city is swell, without being toolish.
It all blended together to really throw off my systems & intrigue me.
I hadn't been impressed with a city in a short while & I was starting to think my top 10 wouldn't change without going overseas.
A city which wasn't even on my radar, a city which I wasn't even excited for, this city had pleasantly surprised me. I would most certainly visit Fort Worth again, and I look forward to that day.
This was a good start to the trip.
The whole reason I initially abandoned my GPS route in Fort Worth was because I was passing the Tarrant County Courthouse.
One of my research printouts for this trip was a map of Texan counties & their county seats. I've been seeking out these buildings a little more in my most recent travels & I learned that Texas has marvelous courthouses.
The Hood County Courthouse in Granbury was in no violation of this marvelous courthouses in Texas rule.
Granbury had enough buildings & welcoming streets to motivate me to walk around for a few minutes. The tiny neighbourhood I strolled through, was home to a number of opulent, Victorian homes & I wondered what economic force was behind their initial startup money.
I also found myself in front of a different Granbury house, observing Texas' state bird (the Northern Mockingbird) in a bush out front. That certainly didn't take very long.
Leaving Granbury & pointing the HHR towards another county courthouse, I discovered how close they were, after I reached Glen Rose in 20 minutes flat.
The Somervell County Courthouse was too nice not to stop for though. Now that I had seen Granbury & Glen Dawe, I started to form postulations on Texas county seats & how the towns are laid out in a square around a central courthouse. It was all very similar to many different movies & it was all very nice, as these places were too small to have boarded up buildings & a 139000 sq ft Wal-Mart on the edge of town.
The Granbury County Courthouse is actually on the National Register of Historic Places as "one of the most complete nineteenth century courthouse squares in Texas" (it is registered along with 12 other buildings, the 12 buildings all having been built between 1885 and 1893, along with the 1890-91 county courthouse).
Meridian, with its Bosque County Courthouse, was a bit bigger than Glen Dawe, but still small enough to have a warm town square. The square was quite busy & didn't seem to have any abandoned/vacant buildings.
I grabbed a coffee nearby & the shop was bustling, complete with a crabby coffee wench who mustn't need to be nice to retain business.
Those were enough county courthouses for a bit. I ignored a few photo opportunities as I was running out of time, driving along all of these secondary highways to these county courthouses.
By this time, I was into the Waco area & starting to grow impressed with the change in scenery. Whereas the Fort Worth area was your standard, intermittent forests with plain, gentle hills; the Waco area hills stretched vertically, with more trees and creeks cutting through the hillsides.
The rush was on to get to Mosheim, Texas.
Leaving state highways for farm roads, the landscape continued to be pretty as I pulled into the sun-drenched hamlet of Mosheim. The school wasn't very hard to find in this two horse town, and it wasn't long before I was out of the car & ready to go.
I have no information when it comes to the Mosheim School, so I can't illuminate any of the history for you. Judging by its appearance, I'm going to say it has simply been abandoned forever (or at least, abandoned since a time before the internet!)
I found tin ceiling pieces on the floor inside, so I'd assume that it was a fairly nice school when it opened (the façade would lead you to this conclusion as well).
This was my first time exploring on this trip without it being a county courthouse in a paved city. This meant that my brain was working overtime as my eyes scanned the grass for spiders, snakes & scorpions.
Thankfully the grass was cut awfully short & I soon concluded that I was being a bit silly. The only thing I would encounter here would be an artfag tree, which you can see in the bottom right shadows of the above picture.
The inside wasn't anything to write home about, but I really love old structures, decaying structures & the combination of old/decaying schools.
This was a good way to get over my fear of southern abandonments; where creepy, crawly creatures weren't waiting around every corner (at least they weren't at the Mosheim School...)
Then sure as soon as I started to get comfortable, I entered this room without a roof and a turkey vulture scared the living daylights out of me! Thankfully it wasn't when I first entered the entire building, where I was on high alert for spiders & snakes!
The rich flap of the bird's wings was in incredible contrast to the silence of this calm day in Mosheim.
Damn turkey vulture.
I punched College Station, Texas into the GPS & there wasn't any time to spare. This is truly where the GPS comes in handy though, when you're traveling by yourself & need to speed directly to your reserved room at the Knights Inn College Station.
I was in town for the night to finally see my Kansas Jayhawks play in person. As I entered the lobby of the Knights Inn, there were no less than 10 Texas A&M Aggies mementos - including a giant, framed print of their logo above the fireplace.
This was a bit intimidating & forced me to think about Texan seriousness in regards to sports. In addition, I imagined hordes of boisterous college students at the game, and therefore I decided not to wear my Jayhawks shirt.
Scurrying down the staircase & down the road, I rushed the four kilometres towards Reed Arena.
I was pretty sure that I was going in the right direction, especially as I started to walk beside the A&M campus and I knew that the arena was at the other end. Just to be sure though, I figured I should ask this stunning blonde, with flowing hair like a warm safe place, if I was indeed going the right way - and when she replied with her sweet, southern accent, I was barely able to keep the love struck look off my face.
There's a Jason Aldean country song where he croons about how 'Texas Was Youuuuu..."; and I hummed the heck out of that song throughout the remainder of this Texas trip. Ha ha!
Anyway, I obviously made it to the arena & obviously the Jayhawks won. The atmosphere was remarkable for a game where the Aggies weren't very close except for a period of a few minutes. It made me really want to see a Final Four game or a rivalry game, as I imagine the atmosphere must be unreal.
(Also, the crowd was about 30% Jayhawk fans. Everything would have been fine.)
As I left the arena & walked through the campus towards my Knights Inn, I noticed a bike rider sessioning a ledge & considered coming back out to the campus for a bike ride.
I had been up for nearly 24 hours at this point though. I decided I was better off with Taco Bell & sleep.
Onto Day 2/3...
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1 - Hood County Courthouse Historic District - Wikipedia